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“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” (Ephesians 5:1)

The little girl stood on the seat of the booth looking over the divider that separated the eating area and an entrance hallway into the restaurant. Not more than a few years old, she began to smile and giggle. Then she waved, as the small child on the other side of the partition waved back. At the urging of her mother, she sat down and ate a few bites of food. As her curiosity got the best of her, she once more stood on the seat and peered over the panel. Again, she giggled and waved and, as before, the other child did the same. It was amazing how much they looked alike. Indeed, they could have been twins for one was, in fact, a mirror-image of the other. The mother decided to glance over the divider to see what was so intriguing. Then she realized that her daughter had been seeing herself reflected in a mirror on the opposite side of the entrance hallway. As this child grows in age, she will become more focused on others and will learn to reflect that interest in games such as “Follow the Leader.”

Throughout the history of Judaism, one of the most honored positions for a Jewish man was the privilege of becoming a “follower” of the local rabbi. The decision to ask to be a rabbi’s disciple and receive religious training from him was not made lightly. Followers sat at the rabbi’s feet as he taught. They would study his words, observed how he acted, and contemplate how he would react to life situations. A student would count it the highest honor to serve his rabbi even to the point of emulating the rabbi’s gestures and mirroring his persona in every aspect of his tradition. A rabbi in the First Century would only choose a very few, highly promising young men from whom he thought could fully measure up to his standard. The young Jewish lad readily agreed to totally surrender to the rabbi’s authority in all areas of interpreting the Scriptures for his life.  If a rabbi judged a potential disciple to have the capability to become just like him, then he would utter those cherished words of acceptance that they yearned to hear – “Follow me.”

When Jesus used those same words to call His disciples (Matthew 4:19), it was an invitation to be changed by Him sharing His passion for all who need a Savior. Jesus deliberately broke the protocol of the traditional rabbi by calling His own disciples. It would seem He had no choice but to do it that way, for no observant young Jewish man would ever have had the courage to ask Jesus if he could become His disciple. Following Jesus also meant that one doesn’t just duplicate His teachings but rather demonstrates through actions that even with an imperfect life, one can be faithful. One of his very own put it this way: “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it–not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it–they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:23-25).

Everyone follows something or someone: friends, popular culture, sports, social media, family, selfish desires, or God. We can only effectively follow one thing at a time. To follow Christ means we apply the truths we learn from His Word and live as if Jesus walks in person beside us. When we decide to follow Jesus, we apprentice our lives with Him. We commit to listening to Him, to obeying Him, and to allowing Him to shape our whole being. No one can imitate Jesus flawlessly, but over time the disciple begins to reflect the master’s influence. “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely” (1 Corinthians 13:12). For like a child, we can look in a mirror and not truly understand who we are. Or we can mature as a faithful disciple and begin to see our image reflect His own.

REFLECTION: Are you personally following Jesus? Does your day revolve around Him? Do you start the day seeking Him, go through the day serving Him, and end the day by thanking Him? How might you apply this scripture to your life – “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart” (Proverbs 27:19)?


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